Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April brings conjunctions and Mercury in the (Northern) evening

As in March there won't be that outstanding - and predictable - sky event this month, except for a man-made one: the automated docking of the ATV to the ISS on the 3rd. The successful dress-rehearsal already led to impressive pictures that could be followed on TV. And again the pair of spacecraft in the sky was a nice sight, too (as was the ATV from the ISS during the Jan. 29 approach). The reentry of the ATV will be of scientific interest for the meteor/heat shield community, by the way. And here is a new hi-res amateur image of the ISS with the first Japanese component. Now for some natural April highlights:
  • April 5: The waning crescent Moon is close to Venus und Mercury, something best (only?) seen from the Southern hemisphere.

  • April 8: The waxing crescent Moon (only 12% illuminated) scratches by the Plejades and won't drown them in light - photographers be aware!

  • April 13: The Moon occults the Beehive star cluster (M 44) around 19:00 UTC.

  • April 15: Regulus, Saturn & the Moon form an evening chain.

  • Around April 27: The best evening apparition of Mercury (for the Northern hemisphere) begins, lasting until about May 19.
In other news the three March sunspot groups from the old cycle could still be seen in white light and H-Alpha yesterday, but AR 989 has now faded away. • Here is the sky during a total lunar eclipse, the one of Aug. 2007 when a lot of Milky Way came out. • Tethys emerging from Saturn's shadow has been observed, • With 15 discoveries, SuperWASP is now the most successful transit planet hunting 'machine'. • A rare case of a prominent astronomer blogging - if only once a week: Mike Brown. • And here's your chance to "participate" remotely at two conferences, the NAM in Belfast and the HCM7 in Salzburg from where a participant blogs in German.

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